Blog

Problems and puzzles: Boosting engagement with interactivity

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

Joshua GreeneJoshua Greene, Professor of Psychology, designs course sessions for maximum engagement by creating interactive opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to grapple with problems and challenge one another. “It’s not a puzzle if there are not two competing, compelling arguments. I try to use students’ natural inclinations to achieve my pedagogical purposes—if they’re not at least a little confused, then I’m not doing my job.”

The benefits: Organizing both seminar-style discussions

Student case pedagogy: Learning from their own experience

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

HeifetzRonald Heifetz, Co-Founder of the Center for Public Leadership and King Hussein bin Talal Senior Lecturer of Public Leadership, uses experiential teaching methods like student case analysis—where students collaboratively develop and analyze cases drawn from their own work experiences—to promote deeper engagement and stronger retention of leadership concepts.

The benefits: Teaching leadership as practice in the Harvard Kennedy School’s 

Leveraging student heterogeneity to bridge gaps through active learning

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

Wessling-ResnickMarianne Wessling-Resnick, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, employs active learning strategies including debate, ‘pair and share,’ and peer evaluation to bridge gaps in student experience and knowledge. “I have found that it is to my advantage to use the heterogeneity of the class as a tool.”

The benefits: Students enrolled in graduate courses at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health represent diverse academic preparation and intended career tracks, illustrated in matrix form to prospective students. “No matter what part of the quadrant you are in, you can use your background and expertise in the classroom.”

Pre-texts: The Arts Teach (Anything)

The Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) hosted its Speaker Series on November 30, 2016 with guest speakers: Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies; Gigi Luk, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education; Adriana Gutiérrez, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literature; and Viviane Gontijo, Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literature.

The talk, entitled “Pre-Texts: The Arts Teach (Anything),” discussed a program for education professionals to employ close reading and critical thinking skills by making art – visual performance, literacy, etc. – based on challenging texts. Professor Sommer described Pre-Texts as a tool that “transfers the authority of learning and gives the keys to unlock knowledge to students.” According to Sommer, it is an effective method achieved with few resources. Jump to full video.

Nuanced assessments: More than the final grade

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

Howell JacksonHowell Jackson, James S. Reid Jr. Professor of Law, experiments with end-of-semester exams and writing assignments to create opportunities for meaningful, formative feedback through skills practice, reflection, and peer collaboration.

The benefits: Jackson has experimented with multiple choice questions, most recently in Introduction to Securities Regulation, requiring students to select options such as “Clearly no” and “Probably yes” and then write short essays

A ‘tangible dimension’: Learning by making, listening, and tasting

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

Gojko Barjamovic, Lecturer on Assyriology, increases student learning in ANE 103 Ancient Lives by designing activities to engage students’ full range of senses. “To convince people to commit a semester of study to ancient history, you have to make it meaningful.” 

Gojko Barjamovic_resin_casts

Online engagement: Designing a learner-centered HarvardX course

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

Diane MooreDiane Moore, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies and Education, collaborated with HDS and FAS colleagues to produce a six-module, online course offering through HarvardX called World Religions Through Their Scriptures. They designed all digital material for optimal engagement of the 130,000 enrolled students: “It’s essential to provide language and tools in order for students from diverse worldviews, religions, experiences, ages, and regions of the world to constructively interact around topics that often divide us.”

From the source: Guest speakers in the classroom

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

David GarvinDavid Garvin, C. Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration,utilizes guest speakers in General Management: Processes and Action in order to promote deeper understanding of managerial and organizational realities. He has experimented with and refined three approaches—Q&A with a case study protagonist, themed presentations and small group conversations with executives, and open-ended conversations with a guest lecturer (often an alum) about their career.

Engaging students via field trips, near and far

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

HankenJames Hanken, Professor of Biology and Director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), increases student engagement by taking students out of the traditional classroom. Whether organizing hisfreshman seminar around weekly excursions to Harvard’s museums, or guiding a spring break field trip to Costa Rica for undergraduates enrolled in OEB 167 Herpetology, these immersive experiences “provide opportunities for students to see and understand things they simply won’t get in the classroom.”

‘Real-world’ projects: Balancing student learning and community need

This post is republished from Into Practice, a biweekly communication of Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning

ForsythAnn Forsyth, Professor of Urban Planning, incorporates projects with clients into many of her Graduate School of Design courses, from semester-long endeavors to optional assignments. Students gain experience designing sustainable and healthy cities by working with and producing reports for government, educational, and non-profit organizations.

The benefits: While students can learn new perspectives researching a case or scoping a theoretical project, partnering with clients offers a chance to understand political, ethical, and technical dimensions and manage time with real stakes. “Students are required to meet with the community, relate to people, and collect data in that context. It adds a certain ethical commitment.”